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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

How Can Truth-Claims of Voter Fraud Influence Public Policy? A Political Discourse Analysis
by Williams, Gregory T., Ph.D., Fielding Graduate University, 2019, 285; 13861751
Abstract (Summary)

Voter-identification (ID) proponents claim that requiring voters to present photo-ID cards prevents fraud. Supported by a comprehensive empirical review, voter-ID opponents argue that significant voter fraud is nonexistent and that such restrictive laws suppress turnout of historically disenfranchised peoples. By analyzing testimonial letters to a state-legislature committee hearing, I show how repeating the false truth-claims can produce wide acceptance, through outright deception and cognitive biases. Focusing on the State of Kansas, my paper asks, “How do proponents of strict voter-ID laws frame their cases for relevant legislation?” and “Where does the research originate that they cite in state legislative hearings to support their claims?” From a content-analysis method of tallying critical words, phrases, and concepts, I tailored a discourse-analysis (DA) discipline. While analyzing grammatical structures, I focused more on the specific social, cultural, and political significances. Using terms and phrases such as “Those” “diseased” “Others” are “stealing Our way of life,” the political DA reveals that voter-ID proponents dehumanize the alleged perpetrators of voter fraud (often referenced as “illegals”). My five primary findings reveal how voter-ID proponents bolster their claims: arguing that their opponents willfully undermine democracy with voter fraud; fostering solidarity, dividing “Us” from the fraudulent voting “Others”; cultivating racism; manipulating legislators with urgent warnings; and buttressing their arguments with anecdotes, biased sources, and demonstrable lies. By revealing the persuasive powers of such discursive techniques, my paper provides a qualitative, critical nuance to the quantitative studies that address voter fraud.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Appelbaum, Richard P.
Commitee: Epps, Zabrina W., Melville, Keith E., Minnite, Lorraine C., Rosenthal, Patrice E.
School: Fielding Graduate University
Department: Leadership Studies
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 80/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Political science, Public policy, Sociolinguistics
Keywords: Discourse analysis (DA), Discourse analysis (DA) of racism, Political discourse analysis (DA), Voter fraud, Voter identification (ID), Voter suppression
Publication Number: 13861751
ISBN: 978-1-392-07153-3
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